Wednesday 12 October 2022

Andrew Millar, printer

The important London publisher, Andrew Millar was born in Port Glasgow in 1705.  He was the son of Port Glasgow's first parish minister, Robert Millar (1672-1752) and his wife Elizabeth Kelso.  He was apprenticed young to an Edinburgh bookseller, James McEuen.  Later he moved to London.

Samuel Johnston

Millar was one of the seven booksellers who in 1747 purchased (£1,575) and agreed to publish within three years Dr Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language.  The famous story is told that when Millar received the last page from Johnson (who was not known for his punctuality), he remarked "Thank God, I have done with him" to which Samuel Johnson is reported to have replied, "I am glad that he thanks God for anything"!

James Thomson, poet

He was also a friend of Scottish poet James Thomson  (1700-1748).  In 1729 Millar published Thomson's work "Seasons" and was later involved in a copyright dispute with another published Robert Taylor.  James Thomson is perhaps most famous today for his poem "Rule Britannia".

Thomson introduced the author Henry Fielding (1707-1754) to his friend the publisher, and in 1749 Millar published "Tom Jones".  He was also said to have lent sums of money to the author.  The work of Scots poet Allan Ramsay (1686-1758) were also published by Millar.  The pair had previously met in Edinburgh when McEuen published some of Ramsay's work.

These are just some of the important authors and works which Millar was responsible for publishing.  He was known to many of the well known authors and poets of the day.  One of his apprentices was Thomas Cadell (1742-1802) who later became his partner in 1765 and after Millar's death went on to become an important publisher in his own right.

Andrew Millar died in 1768 and was buried in the King's Road Old Burial Ground in London (also known as Dovehouse Green Burial Ground).  An obelisk marks his grave and is also a memorial to his three children - Andrew (died 1750 aged 5), Robert (died 1736 aged 1) and Elizabeth (died 1740).  Also buried here is his widow, Jane (1707-1788) who later married Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk, Aberdeenshire (as his fourth wife).  Jane was the daughter of Andrew Johnston an engraver of London.  Her grandfather was Alan Johnston who had been minister in Edinburgh.